According to a study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcycle helmet use rose from 63 percent in 2008 to 67 percent in 2009. Helmet use has been increasing steadily each year since 2005, when only 48 percent of riders wore helmets.
Helmet use in states that required riders to wear helmets also increased between 2008 and 2009, from 78 percent to 86 percent. States that require helmet use consistently have a higher percentage of riders who wear helmets than those that don’t. The study also found that helmet use is continuing to rise in rural areas, while urban areas saw a 15 percent drop in helmet use.
According to the NTHSA, helmets are estimated to be 37 percent effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcycle riders and 41 percent effective for motorcycle passengers. This means that for every 100 motorcycle riders not wearing helmets who were killed in a crash, 37 of them could have lived had they been wearing helmets. Helmets are estimated to have saved the lives of over 1,800 motorcyclists in 2008. However, 537 motorcyclists were killed in California alone in 2008, and many of those deaths could have been prevented with proper helmet use.
As of 2008, 20 states required helmet use by all motorcyclists. Other states either had no helmet requirement, or only required certain riders to wear helmets.